June 20, 2013Contact:
Stewart Schwartz, CSG, 703-599-6437
A diverse set of groups working on affordable housing, conservation, transit, smart growth and bicycle pedestrian issues sent the following letter last week to Fairfax and state officials. We have already received a positive response from Supervisor McKay, Fairfax transportation staff, and the lead planner for the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transit.
JOINT LETTER REGARDING RICHMOND HIGHWAY TRANSIT STUDY
Coalition for Smarter Growth, Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services, Friends of Dyke Marsh, Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance, Community Preservation and Development Corporation, Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling, Sierra Club – Virginia Chapter/Mount Vernon Group, Wesley Housing Development Corporation of Northern Virginia, United Community Ministries, Audubon Naturalist Society, Spring Bank Community Association & Friends of Quander Brook
June 12, 2013
Thelma D. Drake
Director, Department of Rail & Public Transportation
600 East Main Street, Suite 2102
Richmond, VA 23219
Jeff C. McKay
Supervisor, Lee District
Franconia Governmental Center
6121 Franconia Road
Alexandria, VA 22310
Gerald W. Hyland
Supervisor, Mount Vernon District
2511 Parkers Lane
Alexandria, VA 22306
Re: Route 1 Transit Study
Dear Director Drake and Supervisors McKay and Hyland:
We are pleased to hear that a comprehensive $2 million study of transit alternatives for the Richmond Highway Corridor will begin this year. We represent conservation, affordable housing, community development, bicycle, transit, conservation and smart growth organizations that share a commitment to the sustainable, inclusive and economically competitive revitalization of the Richmond Highway Corridor.
Designing the most effective and best-suited transit system for the corridor will require attention to the interaction between land use, transit, housing, market demand, bicycle, pedestrian, and natural resource conservation. The transit mode selected must be tied to the type of land use, levels of density, and service needs of residents. Ridership is profoundly affected by the mix-of-uses, urban design, density, range of housing types and incomes, and safe access to the stations by walking and bicycling.
It is particularly critical that affordable housing be addressed at the earliest stages of study because the mere act of launching a major study of new transit service can create speculative pressures on existing market-rate affordable housing and displacement of lower -income residents. Preservation of existing affordable housing and inclusion of new affordable housing in new development should be included in any comprehensive transit and land use study. The study should also draw from many of the lessons learned from the planning for Tysons Corner, Columbia Pike and Beauregard corridors, in terms of linking transit, land use, and affordable housing.
Therefore, we request that the transit study not only evaluate the various transit modes (Metrorail, light-rail, street car, bus rapid transit and enhanced bus), routing, alignment, service structure and ridership, but that it also include within its scope the following key factors:
- Land uses – mix-of-uses, urban design, density
- Housing – strategies and plans for preservation of existing affordable housing and inclusion of new affordable housing in mixed-income development
- Market Demand – needs of lower income residents, access to jobs, demand for multi-family housing, and growing demand to live and work near high-capacity transit
- Bicycle/Pedestrian – safe access to transit including street design, sidewalks and crossings, station location, and bike facilities (bike lanes, cycle tracks, racks/storage and bikeshare)
- Natural Resources – preserving, enhancing and expanding parks, native trees and vegetation, biodiversity and streams; retrofitting of improved stormwater management including low-impact approaches, and enhancing water and air quality.
We also request that the study include a very robust public outreach and input process, reaching the full range and diversity of residents of all income levels and ethnicities, partnering with community groups to expand outreach and communicating with people with limited English. Our organizations have much to offer in terms of public outreach and technical expertise, and we request to be included at the earliest stages of scoping for the study and throughout the process.
The study should include establishment of a balanced and inclusive stakeholder task force utilizing regular meetings with government staff and consultants. Some of our groups would like to serve on any task force or other committees set up to help guide the study.
We are very pleased that we will soon see planning for new transit in the Richmond Highway Corridor and look forward to being included in the process. We also look forward to your response to our requests.
Coalition for Smarter Growth
Good Shepherd Housing & Family Services
Sierra Club, Virginia Chapter
Mt. Vernon Group
Friends of Dyke Marsh
Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling
United Community Ministries
Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance
Wesley Housing Development Corp. of Northern Virginia
President and CEO
Community Preservation and Development Corporation
Community Preservation and Development Corporation
Spring Bank Community Association & Friends of Quander Brook
Virginia Conservation Associate
Audubon Naturalist Society
About the Coalition for Smarter Growth
The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington D.C. region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Our mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies needed to make those communities flourish. To learn more, visit the Coalition’s website at www.smartergrowth.net.